July 13th, 2011

Summer TV's Target: Boys

The Wall Street Journal

This summer, kids TV programmers are a little boy crazy. That’s because boys watch more animated series than girls and represent a lucrative sales opportunity for videogames, toys and sports merchandise.

Disney is staking a company-wide effort to attract 6- to 11-year-old boys on teal-hued Perry the Platypus—a departure for a company known for princesses and “Hannah Montana.” Perry is the standout character in Disney’s three-year-old animated series “Phineas and Ferb,” a quirky romp alongside stepbrothers trying to entertain themselves during summer vacation.

Kids TV programmers are in a battle to capture boys. Behind their drive: their research that boys watch more animated series than girls, play more videogames, and represent a lucrative market for toys and sports-merchandise. Amy Chozick has details.

Starting Sept. 1, Perry will make a guest appearance on some four million packages of Nesquik, replacing Nestlé’s Nesquik bunny. And he is the focal point of a promotional tour of a 4,000-pound Airstream trailer converted into a “platy-bus”; fans can climb aboard and play 3-D videogames set for release with the Aug. 5 premiere of Disney’s TV movie “Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension.”

“We definitely set out to create a boy’s franchise. That was our goal. That group was underserved,” says Adam Sanderson, senior vice president, franchise management, at Disney-ABC Television Group. A nationwide live stadium show set for 85 cities, “Disney’s Phineas and Ferb: The Best Live Tour Ever!,” kicks off this summer.

Disney has put its licensing heft behind Phineas and Ferb, who have appeared on Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Johnson & Johnson’s Band-Aid bandages and Kellogg’s Fruit Snacks, among other products. Skateboards, guitars and raincoats sold at stores like Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and Target are geared to young adults, so little boys will aspire to have them, too. “Disney’s whole thing was to develop a boy’s brand because it’s always been about princesses,” says Griffin Bentley, vice president of licensing for Mad Engine Inc., of San Diego, which has sold more than two million “Phineas and Ferb” T-shirts since 2008.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812104576441790597642646.html?mod=WSJ_hps_sections_lifestyle

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